Histoplasmosis

Definition

Histoplasmosis is afungal infection that usually affects the lungs.
Lungs
lungs and bronchioles
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by a specific fungus. People often become infected when they inhale the fungus. The fungus can become airborne in dust or debris during demolition projects. People can also come in contact with the fungus through contact with soil contaminated with bat or bird droppings.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of exposure to histoplasmosis include:
  • Having a job that puts you in contact with bird or bat droppings, such as in an aviary
  • Being involved in activities that put you in contact with bird or bat droppings, such such as cave exploration
  • Keeping birds as pets
  • Living along river valleys
  • Living in Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, or Tennessee
  • Living in eastern Canada, Mexico, Central or South America, parts of the Caribbean, southeast Asia, or Africa
  • Having recently traveled to a location where histoplasmosis is common
Not everyone who comes in contact with the fungus will develop an infection. Medical conditions that weaken your immune system, like HIV, cancer treatment, or having an organ transplant can increase your chance of infection.

Symptoms

Histoplasmosis does not generally cause symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Achy muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Feelings of discomfort or uneasiness
  • Spitting out blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Abdominal fullness from an enlarged liver and spleen
  • Skin rashes
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Loss of vision

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